Well, we’ve made it here once again, friends. Tomorrow is the official start of fall. Happy, happy! Joy, joy! Now I can fling comfort food recipes around as much as I want! I want to kick fall off in grand style with a giant vessel of soup or stew. What’s your favourite thing-that-holds-soup? I love those mug-slash-bowl jobbies! You can wrap your hand around it and slurp if the urge strikes or lay it on the plate and plunge a spoon into the contents if you’re feeling more genteel. Either way, a bowl full of warmth is exactly the way fall should begin.
This recipe I’m sharing today is my version (influenced by my little sister, Jessamine) of an old favourite from the original Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve thickened up their traditional Brazilian Black Bean Soup, added a roasted sweet potato, a splash of hot sauce, and I’ve been known to toss some crumbled bacon on top from time to time. It’s hearty, thick, and eminently spoonable. Soft black beans, fragrant garlic, sweet bell peppers, and tiny tender cubes of roasted sweet potato, all are suspended in a thick broth with tomatoes and a surprisingly perfect undertone of orange. It’s what fall demands.
Hang on, hang on, hang on… I’ve written ONE AND A HALF paragraphs in thirty minutes, and I feel compelled to tell you why. My beloved Evil Genius is sitting five feet away from me interrupting me every time I get my train of thought going with questions like:
- “Is there a reason -a legitimate one- that someone would have a long pinky fingernail? I work with a guy with a long pinky fingernail.”
- “Oh good! You’re on the computer! Would you look up the radar?”
- “Is this yogurt pre-sweetened? It says plain, but it tastes sweetened to me.”
- “Look. Here comes that dark cloud, I bet that rain is going to start any minute.”
- “Can you look up whether there’s such a thing as a food-grade caulking gun?”
- “Why do you figure dogs like sweet potatoes so much? What is it about them?”
I looked at him lovingly and said, “If you keep asking me silly things, I’m going to backspace through everything I’ve written and write down what you’re asking me instead.” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Oh good. Please do. Maybe someone else will know about the pinky nail!” Then he went on to sing, “I think the rain’s-a-comin’… Coming ’round the bend…” to the tune of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.
I. Just. Can’t.
I’m abandoning the talk about beans and soups and stews and bowl-mugs and fall and all that to put this recipe up here for you and go spend some time with my weird, fabulous husband.
One quick parting word about using dried beans
Yes. This stew uses dried beans. Don’t worry… it’s not as scary as you might think it is. For this recipe, you soak them first. While research has proven that you don’t NEED to soak beans first, it makes the results of this particular soup more predictable. I like food to behave predictably. Besides this, the texture and flavour of beans that you’ve cooked yourself are so infinitely superior to the ones in cans. Cans are a-okay in a pinch, but take the plunge here and use dried ones! It only takes an hour and change to cook the stew, so don’t worry about it being a huge time investment. Most of it is hands-off, so you can spend the time playing research librarian on Google or calling up radar images for your dear ones.